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Ralf Roth, Lars Donath, Lukas Zahner, and Oliver Faude

For performance and injury prevention in sport, core strength and endurance are focused prerequisites. Therefore we evaluated characteristics of trunk muscle activation and performance during strength-endurance related trunk field tests. Strength-endurance ability, as total time to failure, and activation of trunk muscles was measured in 39 football players of the highest German female football league (Bundesliga) (N = 18, age: 20.7 y [SD 4.4]) and the highest national male under-19 league (N = 21, age: 17.9 y [0.7]) in prone plank, side plank, and dorsal position. Maximal isometric force was assessed during trunk extension and flexion, rotation, and lateral flexion to normalize EMG and to compare with the results of strength-endurance tests. For all positions of endurance strength tests, a continuous increase in normalized EMG activation was observed (P < .001). Muscle activation of the rectus abdominis and external oblique in prone plank position exceeded the maximal voluntary isometric contraction activation, with a significantly higher activation in females (P = .02). We conclude, that in the applied strength-endurance testing, the activation of trunk muscles was high, especially in females. As high trunk muscle activation can infer fatigue, limb strength can limit performance in prone and side plank position, particularly during high trunk muscle activation.

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Thomas Muehlbauer, Claude Mettler, Ralf Roth, and Urs Granacher

The purpose of this study was to compare static balance performance and muscle activity during one-leg standing on the dominant and nondominant leg under various sensory conditions with increased levels of task difficulty. Thirty healthy young adults (age: 23 ± 2 years) performed one-leg standing tests for 30 s under three sensory conditions (ie, eyes open/firm ground; eyes open/foam ground [elastic pad on top of the balance plate]; eyes closed/firm ground). Center of pressure displacements and activity of four lower leg muscles (ie, m. tibialis anterior [TA], m. soleus [SOL], m. gastrocnemius medialis [GAS], m. peroneus longus [PER]) were analyzed. An increase in sensory task difficulty resulted in deteriorated balance performance (P < .001, effect size [ES] = .57−2.54) and increased muscle activity (P < .001, ES = .50−1.11) for all but two muscles (ie, GAS, PER). However, regardless of the sensory condition, one-leg standing on the dominant as compared with the nondominant limb did not produce statistically significant differences in various balance (P > .05, ES = .06−.22) and electromyographic (P > .05, ES = .03−.13) measures. This indicates that the dominant and the nondominant leg can be used interchangeably during static one-leg balance testing in healthy young adults.

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Lars Donath, Oliver Faude, Stephanie A. Bridenbaugh, Ralf Roth, Martin Soltermann, Reto W. Kressig, and Lukas Zahner

This study examined transfer effects of fall training on fear of falling (Falls Efficacy Scale—International [FES–I]), balance performance, and spatiotemporal gait characteristics in older adults. Eighteen community-dwelling older adults (ages 65–85) were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. The intervention group completed 12 training sessions (60 min, 6 weeks). During pre- and posttesting, we measured FES–I, balance performance (double limb, closed eyes; single limb, open eyes; double limb, open eyes with motor-interfered task), and gait parameters (e.g., velocity; cadence; stride time, stride width, and stride length; variability of stride time and stride length) under single- and motor-interfered tasks. Dual tasks were applied to appraise improvements of cognitive processing during balance and gait. FES–I (p = .33) and postural sway did not significantly change (0.36 < p < .79). Trends toward significant interaction effects were found for step width during normal walking and stride length variability during the motor dual task (p = .05, ηp 2 = .22). Fall training did not sufficiently improve fear of falling, balance, or gait performance under single- or dual-task conditions in healthy older adults.

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Paul Ritsche, Thomas Bernhard, Ralf Roth, Eric Lichtenstein, Martin Keller, Sabrina Zingg, Martino V. Franchi, and Oliver Faude

Purpose: Hamstring muscle architecture may be associated with sprint performance and the risk of sustaining a muscle injury, both of which increase during puberty. In this study, we investigated the m. biceps femoris long head (BFlh) cross-sectional area (ACSA), fascicle length (FL) and pennation angle (PA), and sprint performance as well as their relationship in under 13 to 15 youth soccer players. Methods: We measured 85 players in under-13 (n = 29, age = 12.5 [0.1] y, height = 155.3 [6.2] cm, weight = 43.9 [7.6] kg), under-14 (n = 25, age = 13.5 [0.3] y, height = 160.6 [7.7] cm, weight = 47.0 [6.8] kg), and under-15 (n = 31, age = 14.4 [0.3] y, height = 170.0 [7.7] cm, weight = 58.1 [8.8] kg) teams. We used ultrasound to measure BFlh ACSA, FL and PA, and sprint tests to assess 10- and 30-m sprint time, maximal velocity  (v max), and maximal acceleration (α max). We calculated Pearson r to assess the relationship between sprint ability and architectural parameters. Results: All muscle architectural parameters increased from the under-13 to the under-15 age group (BFlh ACSA = 37%, BFlh FL = 11%, BFlh PA = 8%). All sprint performance parameters improved from the under-13 to under-15 age categories (30-m time = 7%, 10-m time = 4%, v max = 9%, α max = 7%). The BFlh ACSA was correlated with 30-m sprint time (r = −.61 (95% compatibility interval [CI] [−.73, −.45]) and v max (r = .61, 95% CI [.45, .72]). A combination of BFlh ACSA and age best predicted 30-m time (R² = .47 [.33, .62]) and 10-m time (R² = .23 [.08, .38]). Conclusions: Muscle architectural as well as sprint performance parameters increase from the under-13 to under-15 age groups. Even though we found correlations for all assessed architectural parameters, BFlh ACSA was best related to the assessed sprint parameters.